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Re: [NewMobilityCafe] a car to improve lives

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  • Richard Layman
    Below is an old blog entry.  FWIW, in fiscal year 2010 I served as bike and ped planner in Baltimore County, Maryland (grant funded).  At the time, the #1
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 13, 2011
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      Below is an old blog entry.  FWIW, in fiscal year 2010 I served as bike and ped planner in Baltimore County, Maryland (grant funded).  At the time, the #1 transpo priority for the County Executive was to assist lower income households in acquiring a car.  Adding to the fixed rail transit system was 3rd on the list of 4 items I seem to recall.

      The Baltimore region's biggest problem is that it has two transit lines (one subway line, one light rail) and some commuter railroad service focused on Baltimore and DC but it doesn't have a transit network.  Without a transit network you can't realize substantive transit use and you can't generate the kinds of land use changes that increase returns and benefits to transit.

      I wrote an internal paper outlining a much more systematic approach to fixed rail transit connection and expansion for Baltimore County for the Master Plan group.  Nothing made it into the Master Plan.  I was told later that the County Executive Budget Office ("inter-agency review") deleted everything related to transit from the Master Plan because it would cost money.  Transpo. planning had been removed from the Office of Planning many years before.  In the DPW, transpo planning is mostly traffic modeling.  At my goading the then director of the planning office tried to make a play to get transpo planning back, but the move was denied by the County Executive's office.

      Richard Layman

      Tuesday, December 06, 2005

      A really really bad article in the Washington Monthly

      I love a parade on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpgFlickr photo by David Wyman.

      "To be a fully functioning citizen in this country today, a car is a virtual necessity; so the federal government should subsidize a set of wheels and the commute to work" even more than it already does, a minimum of $200 billion/year in the military budget related to maintaining access to foreign oil, 50% of the cost of roads, the provision of free parking to government workers, etc. (my points in bold)

      In "A Car In Every Garage," the author argues that, especially to end poverty, the policy choice should be to give everyone a car, and she fails to address the factors, such as land use planning that allows job locations to be disconnected from efficient transit options, etc., which make car dependence a virtual necessity for many.

      And as the Location Efficient Mortgage program makes very clear, by not being auto-dependent, and living on transit lines, families can cut spending on transit and put that money into buying a house. (The average household spends up to 20% of its annual income on automobile-related transportation.)

      From a brochure about the LEM : "People who live in location-efficient communities reap many rewards. Stores, schools, and public transit, all lie within walking distance of their homes. They have less need to drive, which gives them more discretionary income. They’re more likely to know their neighbors. Their frequent use of local amenities saves energy, which means cleaner air for us all!"

      So rather than deal with the issues of deconcentration, sprawl, gasoline dependence, the likelihood of peak oil, and the impact that this has on our society economically, spatially, culturally, and in terms of foreign policy choices (read: wars to ensure continued access to oil) she suggests everyone, particularly the poor, get a car.

      Hmm. So much for the pathbreaking nature of Washington Monthly.

      From the article:

      Among the many unpleasant realities exposed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath--from persistent income and racial disparities to the chronic incompetence of the Bush administration--one of the most surprising, to many, was this: our nearly total dependence on automobiles. 

      Nowhere was this clearer than in the exodus from New Orleans itself. The difference between those who escaped with their lives and loved ones, and those who did not, often came down to access to a car and enough money for gas. Now, in the recovery stage, many of those who were left behind have been evacuated to trailer-park camps, where they are likely to be worse off than they were before, in part because they cannot get to where the jobs are.

      portland ground Bagdad, Portland.jpgBike, car, walking, and bus are mobility options in the Hawthorne Distrit of Portland. Photos from Portland Ground.

      portland ground Pioneer Square, Max Light Rail, Protestors, at Lunchtime.jpgAnd transit options abound, with light rail

      Portland Streetcar, Oregonand streetcar, in addition to bus.

      From: Simon Norton <S.Norton@...>
      To: carfreecafe@yahoogroups.com; newmobilitycafe@yahoogroups.com; worldtransport@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 5:37 PM
      Subject: [NewMobilityCafe] a car to improve lives

      I dare say that in areas like West London the lack of a car can cause problems,
      but I should be surprised if these problems were ever so big as to cause major
      loss of employment opportunities, which, we're told, is happening in Baltimore.

      At the Conservative Party conference an announcement was made that unemployed
      people will be punishable with loss of benefit if they refuse jobs within 90
      minutes commute. In other words, this is considered a reasonable commuting time
      by our government. I am sure that one can get pretty much anywhere to anywhere
      within a sector of London in this sort of time.

      That isn't to say that we don't need big improvements. Transport campaigners
      have proposed a light rail network for North-West London which would link
      several important areas, including the industrial estates in Park Royal
      mentioned by Dave Holladay. And as he says, our planning system has allowed
      developments such as hospitals in transport discriminatory locations.

      Coleshill Parkway is interesting in another way. When it opened it had buses
      every 15 minutes to Birmingham Airport, fanning out to provide 4 services, each
      hourly, to different surrounding towns. I cited it as an example of good
      practice in rail/bus coordination, as against (say) East Midlands Parkway
      station which has no buses at all except an occasional service on route 65 --
      the route between Nottingham and East Midlands Airport goes past nonstop. Now,
      following local authority cuts, the service between Coleshill Parkway and
      Birmingham airport is down to half hourly, all journeys to places beyond require
      a change at Coleshill, 2 of the 4 routes have disappeared completely and a 3rd
      is now only occasional.

      I have commented on the contrast between the 5000 pound bribe for those with
      25,000 further pounds to spare to buy an electric car, and the cuts to bus
      service support, which in Cambridgeshire has been about 5 pounds per person per
      year. In Hartlepool, which summarily abolished all bus subsidies, there is a
      case of someone who has to pay 11 pounds EVERY DAY for a taxi to visit a frail
      relative and as a result can only do so 3 days a week.

      One could argue that concessionary bus passes are a way of making socially
      worthwhile use of spare capacity on buses.

      Finally I'd like to mention an article on commuting in the US that I came across
      through another e-group: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15207973>. The
      comments on it, both from the UK and the US, are worth looking through.

      Simon Norton

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